Subscribe to The Horn Book

Making Over Uglies

Digging through a box of books the other day, I came across what I thought was a new Scott Westerfeld book. “Yay!” said my brain—until I realized the title read Uglies. “Wait, what?” I thought. “This isn’t Uglies!”

The “trilogy plus one” is receiving a full redesign (in hardcover, no less) by publisher Simon Pulse, from the covers to trim size and page design. While the new jacket for Extras does pay homage to the original, the new Uglies cover with its haunting covered face bears a closer resemblance to the opening credits of the (adult) TV show Dexter than it does to the original cover. The new Pretties cover reminds me of another grown-up show, Nip/Tuck, making me wonder if the makeovers are an attempt to market the books to an older audience. Though the new covers don’t appeal to me personally, I’ve seen plenty of positive buzz about them online from adult bloggers.

I feel these remakes lack the pizzazz of the original books: their smaller size, mysterious teenaged faces, and eye-catching spines. And while the images on the new covers are startling (as is the use of sterile white), they just don’t do justice to the uniqueness of Westerfeld’s dystopian world. Ironically, the new versions look like New Pretty Town–style extreme makeovers of the originals—sexed-up and stripped down. I’m the first to admit I can be averse to change, but in this case, change seems unnecessary and a little compromising. What do you think?

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.



  1. Library Liz says:

    >These covers certainly look like they appeal to an older crowd. I've had sixth grade girls tell me these are the best books they have ever read and these covers might cause parents to tell there tweens to choose something else.

  2. MotherReader says:

    >I don't like the new covers at all. Well, I like the new covers as book covers, but not as new Uglies covers. I think they are definitely going for the crossover appeal, but perhaps losing the teens in the process.

  3. >Agreed – I don't like the new covers either. As a bookseller, I always loved shelving the books spine-out so that the wraparound pictures made weird images. I feel like the old covers speak more to the content of the books.

  4. What a super blog!Give us more please!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind